Mar 042014
 
Thai-Sandwich-With Cheese

Is a cookbook author’s Asian Sandwich with cheese “perfect for every occasion?” I think not.

Recently I edited a cookbook manuscript for a publisher, where the author used  “perfect for every occasion” in one too many headnotes.

I lost it. I struck out the phrase and then went back and struck it out every time it appeared.  “Perfect for every occasion” screams 1950s housewife to me. And it doesn’t make sense.

Here’s why:

1. Most of the time, readers don’t need ideas for  “occasions.” They need food for  meals.

Okay, they might need the occasional dish for a potluck, a baby shower, or a new neighbor. Those are specific events. A dish cannot be perfect for every occasion. I guarantee you that the author’s Asian sandwich with cheese (oh yes, I did Continue reading »

Feb 252014
 

A guest post by Nancy Baggett

2DayaWeekDietCookbookREDOFINAL-72-small

Something new for these two authors: a Kindle book for $3.99 that must be promoted online for best results.

After writing 16 cookbooks for mainstream American cookbook publishers over nearly three decades, I just co-published my first Kindle book. It’s a 250-page co-authored work called The 2 Day a Week Diet Cookbook, with 75 recipes and 50 color photographs for $3.99.

What made this project different was that, from the beginning, my co-author Ruth Glick and I planned to create a Kindle book. We never considered pitching it to publishers. Ruth had already written a number of Kindle books (mostly novels), and when she proposed that we collaborate, I promptly agreed.

In retrospect, I can see how this self-publishing process would be daunting for inexperienced authors. Going the indie Kindle route meant foregoing a publisher’s hand-holding and the usual editorial, production, and marketing assistance. Having written numerous cookbooks, we felt confident doing the recipe development, editing and proofreading, and even writing blurbs. The jobs that were less familiar, particularly Continue reading »

Feb 182014
 
Bonnie Benwick

Recipe Editor Bonnie Benwick at the Washington Post is open to pitches. (Photo courtesy of Deb Lindsey.)

Bonnie Benwick, deputy food editor and recipe editor at the Washington Post, is obsessed with good recipes. She tests and edits a slew of them every week for the paper’s Food Section, and wrote the Post’s first cookbook.

She also manages a crew of 30 testers, sometimes makes dishes at home for the photo shoots, and is not above running around town to find a prop or ingredient for a dish.

We met on e-mail, when she told me she was reading my book, Will Write for Food, while on vacation! More recently she interviewed me on cooking smarter, and after discussing my rant on not specifying the amount of salt in recipes,  she wrote this feature article: ‘Salt to taste,’ taken with a grain of regret. Here are her thoughts on what makes a good recipe for the Washington Post, should you wish to pitch her:

Q. Where does the Washington Post get its recipes ?

A. It’s a mix. I choose some from new cookbooks, some come from Continue reading »

Feb 112014
 
It's-Complicated

Think editing is complicated? It doesn’t have to be. But it’s critical to becoming a better writer.

Writing is rewriting, as the saying goes. And while it’s true, do you know what to look for when you read your first draft, or how to improve it?

Here’s what I look for when I edit both my own posts and the work of others:

1. Keep your focus. Do you start by moaning about a cold, move to the merits of a new smoothie you made for breakfast, and end with a recipe for chocolate cake? Stick to a Continue reading »

Feb 042014
 
Molly-Wisenberg by Kyle Johnson

Food blogger Molly Wizenberg, whose writing career expanded to include two memoirs. (Photo by Kyle Johnson)

At Food Blog South recently in Birmingham, food blogger Molly Wizenberg shared her story of leaving graduate school and jumping into the unknown with her blog, Orangette. She spoke about taking risks, setting high standards, the importance of showing up, and how blogs are a powerful tool for writing.

Here’s an excerpt from her talk, which Molly graciously allowed me to share with you. It’s an inspiring piece about one young woman’s determination to stick with blogging, no matter what life events come along. If you’re feeling conflicted about blogging, or even writing on a regular basis, pull up a chair:

“I [...] started Orangette in 2004.  I have to tell you, I was so giddy to have a place to write for myself, not for professors; to have a place to let myself fall down the rabbit hole of food; to have given myself permission to go after something that made me so happy.  I think you probably all know that feeling.  There’s nothing that can beat that feeling.

I didn’t know then what I wanted to do with my blog, other than gush about Continue reading »

Jan 282014
 
Sausage-and-Kale-Pizza-600

What I’ve eaten lately: A kale and sausage pizza from Lungomare, an Italian seafood restaurant in Oakland, CA.

Wondering how to get ahead? My quarterly e-newsletter is filled with links on best practices and ideas for book promotion, social media, freelancing, writing and blogging. Here are some of those terrific links, the best of dozens I’ve culled through in the last few months.

If you’d like to subscribe, my newsletter is free. Please sign up here.

1. For tips on book promotion, read 31 Ways to Find New Readers, Outside of Your Network.

2. And if you’re getting interviewed about your new Continue reading »

Jan 212014
 

Kicking-In-the-Wall“When you hit a wall, kick it in.”

That’s the advice playwright Sam Shepard gave to musician Patti Smith early in her career. She had said to him, “I would go as far as I could and hit a wall, my own imagined limitations” and that was his response.

Sound familiar? This line from Smith’s memoir, Just Kids, inspired author Barbara Abercrombie to write Kicking in the Wall: A Year of Writing Exercises, Prompts and Quotes to Help You Break Through Your Blocks and Reach Your Writing Goals.

Inside are 365 five-minute writing exercises, a great way to jumpstart your writing for the new year. Dip in and pick Continue reading »